Monday, October 02, 2006

rearview mirrors

In a capitalist patriarchal culture, so many reviews seemed to be geared toward public relations and buying and selling. IF women are systemically unequal, the reviews are likely to take on that hue. Moreover, many reviewers feel compelled to invoke hegemonic "histories of poetry" in their reviews.

Poetry is the most radical form of language, and (often) reviews feel like the most conservative -- motivated by economics and parasitic.This isn't to say that reviews can't be radical (I def think there is potential in the "authorless" review), but ultimately art is the most radical way to evaluate.

But I read lots of reviews/criticisms of pop culture that take gender/feminism(s) into account and -- I have to say -- the availability of feminist critiques of tv shows like Laguna Beach do make me hopeful. Magazines like Bitch don't bill themselves as a "review" of pop culture but rather a "response." Now I'm just thinking out loud here, but a "review" seems to suggest primarily a critique of the content, while "response" suggests an engagement/questioning/assessment of both premise and content. So it's not just about "what happens" on Laguna Beach, but also about why and how the show "laguna beach" exists and what the implications of that premise are. And then that can be compared to a show like "Veronica Mars." Sorry to be going on about TV here, but it's the best example I can come up with right now. At any rate, the "review" as it tends to exist in the NYTBR and other places may be too narrow a form to address what needs to be addressed.

So what I'm wondering is how "a feminist response to poetry culture" might look.

And what is the review culture that would be good for any female poets book?

A few thoughts

- highlighting how individuals do something special is good
- reporting "what happens" when we read/listen/look/touch as opposed to placing whatever
we read/listen/look/touch is into some linear, historical context is good.
-reviews that are not tied to buying and selling are good

also, to what extent might "poetry culture" be different from academic culture, AND to what extent has academic/AWP poetry culture been effectively sealed off from the culture of spoken word poetry where race/gender/class are so much more likely to be treated topically.


Juliegoose said...

I think queer theory might have something interesting to offer here too, re: queering the review?

tmorange said...

hi michelle,

i'm in complete agreement with you. it's very difficult to conceive of a "review" or "response" that has as little complicity as possible with the compulsory market logic (with all its bestowals of cultural capital) that small press poetry seems unfortunately unable to resist. but this is a good start.


is this real?